When I first move to the big city, I was a total food hermit, I would hardly ever eat anything outside of my comfort zone. Luckily, I've come out of my shell, but 12 years ago, when my future college roommate forced me to try his native Vietnamese cuisine, the only thing I would order off the menu was barbecue beef, which I enjoyed so much that it's still a mainstay for me at Vietnamese restaurants.
Prowling the food blogs last week, I came across this recipe for a Vietnamese grilled pork that looked very similar to my beloved bbq beef. I tried it out over the weekend and the flavors were spot on, it was so good that a serving for four was devoured by two in no time. As I was chomping my way through the delicious bowl, I was thinking about how the warm pork, mixed with the crisp lettuce and cool noodles would be perfect the meal on a warm summer day, so it's sure to find its way to grill again when the seasons change, if I can even wait that long.
- For the marinade:
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 pounds of pork shoulder
- 1 package of rice vermicelli
- 1 head of butter lettuce, torn into small pieces
- 1 bunch of mint
- Olive oil
- For the sauce (also known as nuoc cham):
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced or julienned (depending on your preference)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chili paste
Place pork in the freezer until it firms slightly, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the pork from the freezer, thinly slice and place in a large ziploc bag.
In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the marinade. Pour marinade into the bag with the pork and seal, removing as much air as possible. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for one hour to overnight.
In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the sauce. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Right before grilling, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the vermicelli noodles and cook until tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, set aside.
Remove the pork from the fridge. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Grill pork immediately over the hot fire until cooked through and charred well on both sides, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove pork to a plate.
To assemble, place noodles in bowl or on a plate, then top with the grilled pork, lettuce and mint. Drizzle with the sauce and enjoy!